Walking the labyrinth


Iona Weekend labyrinth at Dopersduin (NL), outlined in flour

 

The labyrinth may be a set path, but it does not offer a set experience. Instead, it offers a door that anyone may go through, to discover realities that meet each person where each most needs to be met.

​– An Altar in the world, Barbara Brown Taylor

 
The labyrinth in the photograph was created by Mineke during an Iona Weekend organised by the Dutch Iona regional groups in mid-September 2021.

Mineke is a pastoral worker at a psychiatric hospital in The Hague and is currently involved in establishing a labyrinth (maybe two) on hospital grounds. During the weekend Mineke led a labyrinth workshop, offering participants the experience of walking a labyrinth and getting their feedback on her design. Weather conditions were very favourable, and the labyrinth, outlined in flour, lasted till well after we all left Dopersduin.

I was leading a collage workshop at the time, so I couldn’t take part in Mineke’s workshop, but I was curious and later visited the labyrinth with Mineke and my friend, Margriet (seen here in the photo), and took some photographs.

Unique to Mineke’s design is the option to take the longer way round or move straight to the centre. It’s also easy to follow the longer route as many times as you like before exiting.
 


 
Here is a longer excerpt from Barbara Brown Taylor’s book, An Altar in the world, also on the subject of the labyrinth as a spiritual practice.
 

Not everyone is able to walk, but most people can, which makes walking one of the most easily available spiritual practices of all. All it takes is the decision to walk with some awareness, both of who you are and what you are doing. Where you are going is not as important, however counterintuitive that may seem. To detach the walking from the destination is in fact one of the best ways to recognize the altars you are passing right by all the time. Most of us spend so much time thinking about where we have been or where we are supposed to be going that we have a hard time recognizing where we actually are. When someone asks us where we want to be in our lives, the last thing that occurs to us is to look down at our feet and say. ‘Here, I guess, since this is where I am.’

This truth is borne out by the labyrinth – an ancient spiritual practice that is enjoying a renaissance in the present century. For those who have never seen one, a labyrinth is a kind of maze. Laid out in a perfect circle with a curling path inside, it rarely comes with walls. Instead, it trusts those who enter it to stay on the path voluntarily. This path may be outlined with hand-picked stones out-of-doors or painted right on the floor indoors. Either way, it includes switchbacks and detours, just like life. It has one entrance and it leads to one center.

The important thing to note is that the path goes nowhere. You can spend an hour on it and end up twelve feet from where you began. The journey is the point. The walking is the thing.

from p. 56

 


 
More on labyrinths

 

Walk for peace


Logo for PAX Walk of Peace

 
PAX is the largest peace organization in the Netherlands. They work to protect civilians from the violence of war, to end armed violence and to build inclusive peace. They do this in conflict areas worldwide, together with local partners and people who believe, as they do, that everyone has the right to a dignified life in a peaceful society.

In 2015 PAX teamed up with the Dutch Council of Churches to organize their first Walk of Peace. More than 100 Walks of Peace have taken place all around the country since then.

The Walk of Peace is a walk of and for peace. A walk to experience and to show that, despite our differences, we can still get along.

PAX’s 2021 Walk of Peace will be held in Zwolle this coming Saturday, 18 September.
 

You can go on a Walk of Peace too, anytime, right where you are – to pray for peace and peacemakers and affirm your commitment to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, our Prince of Peace. And take some friends along with you.

 


 
From the blog
A Peace Garden
Lively concern
imagine … no war …
 

Walk the walk


Canal tour in Paris, while waiting at one of the sluice gates  (Photo: Irene Bom)

 

He has told you, mortals,
      what is good
      in His sight.
 
What else
      does the Eternal
      ask of you
but to live justly
and to love kindness
and to walk
      with your True God
      in all humility?
(Micah 6:8, VOICE)

 
 
 
Take time to meditate on this verse and consider how you might put it into practice in the particulars of your life and relationships, including your relationship with the one True God-with-you, who loves you and knows what is good and what is good for you.

No doubt, there will be things to confess and put right, as well as new prayer-inspired, prayer-supported initiatives as your move forward.
 


From the blog
First love
The last may be first
In the school of prayer with St Francis of Assisi
 

He walks the earth


Discarded (or misplaced) working boots   (Photo: Irene Bom)
 

 

God empties himself
into the earth like a cloud.
God takes the substance, contours
of a man, and keeps them,
dying, rising, walking,
and still walking
wherever there is motion.

 
excerpt from the poem, “Feast days”, by Annie Dillard
published in Tickets for a Prayer Wheel
 


More Annie Dillard
The Holy Other